We make a ladder for ourselves out of our vices
if we trample the vices themselves under foot.
— St. Augustine
Saint Augustine! well hast thou said,
That of our vices we can frame
A ladder, if we will but tread
Beneath our feet each deed of shame!
All common things, each day's events,
That with the hour begin and end,
Our pleasures and our discontents,
Are rounds by which we may ascend.
( Augustine's Ladder, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
'I am, I ought, I can, I will.'––'I am, I ought, I can, I will'––these are the steps of that ladder of St. Augustine, whereby we
"rise on stepping stones
Of our dead selves to higher things."
'I am'––we have the power of knowing ourselves.
"I ought'––we have within us a moral judge, to whom we feel ourselves subject, and who points out and requires of us our duty.
'I can'––we are conscious of power to do that which we perceive we ought to do.
'I will'––we determine to exercise that power with a volition which is in itself a step in the execution of that which we will. Here is a beautiful and perfect chain,
From Home Education by Charlotte Mason
I could wish that men would consider these three things that are in themselves. These three are far other than the Trinity; but I speak of things in which they may exercise and prove themselves, and feel how far other they be.
But the three things I speak of are, To Be, to Know, and to Will. For I Am, and I Know, and I Will; I Am Knowing and Willing; and I Know myself to Be and to Will; and I Will to Be and to Know. In these three, therefore, let him who can see how inseparable a life there is,-even one life, one mind, and one essence; finally, how inseparable is the distinction, and yet a distinction. Surely a man hath it before him; let him look into himself, and see, and tell me.
Augustine Confessions Book XIII